Remember me waxing lyrical about how much I love custard? In the days before I could make anything, my custard of choice came out of a little plastic cup with an aluminium cover and tiny little tabs on the bottom.
It was delicious. Sometimes I wouldn't even bother turning it out onto a plate. I'd just spoon it straight out of the cup. Yum.
This time, I made my very own. From scratch. In my own oven. With eggs and everything. Aren't you proud?
My only issue is a bit of a silly one. The roasting tin I used to bake these in is kind of big for my oven. I can't just put it on an oven rack. It needs to sit directly in the grooves that the rack itself would rest on. Usually this isn't a problem, but when baking custards in a water bath, it all gets very heavy, so it took me about 10 minutes to get it in there comfortable. During this time my oven lost a lot of heat, so of course, I turned it up. Now, what you may not know about my oven is that it's kind of small and only has a heating element at the top. So, these turned on full blast and basically overcooked the tops (or is it bottoms) of my creme caramels. I had to do what I do for macarons and put in a foil covered oven rack just under the heating element. Dumb oven.
The solution? I just scraped those bits off before turning them out. And they were delicious. =)
1 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup water
Quick squeeze of lemon (optional)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup cream (at least 35% milk fat)
2/3 cup caster sugar
Pinch of salt
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
Add the caster sugar, water and lemon (if using) to a small-ish saucepan. Heat on medium, giving is a swirl every now and then to make sure all the sugar is dissolving. Try to resist the urge to stir. Instead, brush down the sides of the pan occasionally with water and a pastry brush. Cook it until is looks like caramel. It may take a little time, but watch it closely, because once it starts to take on colour it will brown quite quickly. The darker your caramel is, the more pronounced that burnt sugar taste will be in the end result. Once you're happy with how your caramel is looking, take it off the heat and immediately pour into your ramekins or dariole moulds, dividing equally. Swirl your moulds around a little bit to coat the bottom and gently encourage the caramel to crawl up the sides a little.
At this stage, boil a big kettle of water.
Add the milk, cream, sugar and salt together in a pot and bring to a boil. As soon as it reaches boiling temp, take it off the heat. If you want to add any other flavourings (coffee, citrus, chocolate...) add it to the milk mixture.
Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla. When the milk mixture is ready (i.e. scalded) pour into the eggs, whisking constantly. Strain into a jug and pour into the ramekins, over the caramel (which should have set by now).
Arrange a tea towel in the bottom a baking/roasting dish so that is sits more or less flat. Place your filled ramekins on top. Pour hot water into it until it comes up 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake at 160°C for 30-35 minutes. To check if they're done, you can gently slide a knife into one of them. If it comes out mostly clean, but with a few little bits of gently set custard clinging to it, then it's done. You can also just give them a little shake. They should be wobbly in the middle, but shouldn't be too watery.
When you determine them to be cooked, cool them on a wire rack, then chill overnight*. To serve, loosen the custards with a knife and turn onto a plate.
*I've seen recipes which say that 3 hours of chilling is fine. Which is probably ok, but as well as cooling the custard, chilling also loosens up the caramel, giving you that nice oozy sauce. As far as I can tell, the longer you chill it, the more sauce you will get (instead of it all clinging to the bottom of the mould).